University of Florida scientists said the nightmarishly named “rat lungworm” has actually been discovered in multiple types of snails in the Miami location, consisting of the invasive giant African snail.
The scientists, who published their results in the “Journal of Parasitology,” made the discovery while investigating the death of an orangutan that died after consuming snails and falling ill. It was the second primate to pass away from consuming infected snails in Florida because 2004.
The Angiostrongylus cantonensis parasite is currently a public health concern in Hawaii and throughout Asia, and it’s been found formerly in Louisiana and Florida. However until now it had not been considered common in the continental U.S.
Becoming contaminated with the lungworm is as bad as it sounds: when consumed, the parasites consume their way to the main nerves, where they eventually die. While in rare cases the infection can be fatal, the worms typically cause extreme headaches, and occasionally even paralysis in individuals.
In Hawaii, the infected snails have caused lots of individuals to fall ill, mainly from mistakenly ingesting small snails on salad greens or other produce that had not been effectively cleaned.
Robert Cowie, a research study scientist at the University of Hawaii who studies the lungworm and was not associated with the Florida paper, said the research study shows the worm prospers in subtropical environments.
Figuring out how pervasive the worm is in Florida was necessary because of the human health hazards. Still, human beings who don’t eat snails are safe.
“People cannot become infected with this parasite unless they consume an undercooked or raw snail,” stated Heather Walden, the study’s lead author and a teacher of parasitology at University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medication.